Extreme Rules is two weeks away. Raw has actually been pretty good lately. I’m still not sold on the Stephanie/Shane regime, but hey, the focus on new talent and fresh matches is always a plus. This week’s show kind of fell a bit flat for me though. Extreme Rules is still shaping up to be a good card on paper, nevertheless.
The Highlight Reel: Hit
It seems like they’re really behind Big Cass. And that’s not a surprise, the dude’s a giant and he was automatically over with the crowd thanks to the Enzo & Cass act. I was impressed with how well Cass held himself in his promo sans Enzo. I do think there’s something missing from the act without Enzo with him though and I don’t think a solo Cass has a lot of staying power. So fingers crossed that Enzo makes a relatively speedy recovery. Jericho was also great here, as usual.
Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler: Botch
A minor botch. They aren’t booking Corbin how I feel that they should be. The guy would get a lot more traction if they let him squash a bunch of jobbers in 30-second matches, rather than having him trade wins in lengthy back and forth matches with Dolph Ziggler. I kind of hope this is the end of the Ziggler/Corbin feud, but I’m not sure where they go with Corbin next. He hasn’t come out of this looking like a big deal at all. He looks like just another dude on the roster.
R-Truth vs. Fandango: Botch
My god this sucks. Some idiot in creative thinks they’re creating absolute comedy gold with the whole Goldust/Truth thing. It occurred to me today that this storyline has been going on for like, almost a solid six months. There is zero crowd reaction to this and these segments just die a swift and painful death on TV. Making it worse, they’re dragging Tyler Breeze and Fandango down with them now. This angle is horrible.
Charlotte vs. Paige: Hit
This was a really good match. It’s good to see Paige on TV again, it seems like they just don’t know what to do with her right now. I thought Natalya actually wasn’t that bad on commentary, and I didn’t hate Charlotte losing here either. It’s not like she was pinned clean as a whistle, and it leads into the idea that Charlotte can’t win without help from Ric.
Sami Zayn vs. The Miz: Hit
The crowd was a bit more quiet than usual, but they picked up towards the end. This was a really solid match and it looked like Sami had to fight really hard just to get into the Extreme Rules match. It’s nice to see Sami get a win and I’m also really entertained by the Miz/Maryse team lately.
Dana Brooke debuts: Botch
Eh, chalk her up with Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin amongst premature NXT call ups. I think Dana has improved A LOT in NXT, but she still had room to grow. And a debut in a backstage sneak attack segment is a pretty cold way to debut someone. As an NXT viewer, I’m interested to see where they go with her and how they book her. It looks like they’ll be continuing the Emma & Dana team that we’ve seen in NXT for a long time, and that’s not a bad idea since it gives Emma something to do as well. And ultimately, more women on the roster isn’t a bad idea. They just have to start booking more storylines aside from the Women’s Championship storyline. I just felt that they could have done this debut a bit better and it may have had more effect in the ring rather than backstage.
Rusev vs. Sin Cara: Botch
Ugh. Do you remember when Rusev was an unstoppable, undefeated monster? The dude was taken seriously and had so much momentum behind him, up until he was fed to John Cena. I had hoped coming out of the League of Nations, they’d get behind Rusev again and build him, especially after making him the #1 contender for the US title. But no. They had him lose to Sin Cara of all people here. Sin. Cara. The stupid thing is, Rusev will probably win the US title and carry it as a weak champion that loses all the time.
The Club vs. Reigns & The Usos: Botch
It was a pretty hot match and segment overall. But “The Club” is already just mixing into the whole 50/50 thing. Anderson and Gallows were both eliminated pretty quickly, and Gallows gets taken out by a single Superman Punch. Then things ended in a DQ. In this build to Extreme Rules, they’ve gone above and beyond to make Reigns look even stronger than usual, and I feel that that’s completely at the cost of making Styles, Gallows and Anderson appear as a threat. This is the new badass stable in WWE and they’re already losing matches. AJ Styles does not look like a guy that has a chance of winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Through the booking and storytelling, they’ve made it clear thus far that AJ Styles is great, but not as great as Roman. So aside from potential intrigue with The Club, why should I care about the main event at Extreme Rules? Maybe they change things around and make Styles look strong next week. But you can’t have your #1 contender beaten down so hard, his lackeys beaten so easily, his finishing move so devalued and still expect people to care about the result of the match. I’m sure it’ll be a great match, but the booking has been questionable.
Kevin Owens vs. Zack Ryder: Botch
I think this would have been better if it came earlier in the show. But at this point, the crowd was a bit burnt out and no one expected Ryder to get an upset here. It was right for Owens to win, but it was such a short match, this just felt like a time filler.
The Dudley Boyz vs. The New Day: Botch
The New Day promo was fun, and the match was fine. I was glad to see The Vaudevillains get some offence here. But they’re still really struggling to get over. I like them a lot, but I’m afraid their gimmick isn’t quite clicking yet. And there was a way to do this match without The Dudley Boyz winning. This is an occasion where it would’ve been fine for a DQ finish or something, given that The Vaudevillains were running in. Having Kofi get pinned by a D-Von Dudley clothesline (although it was a hell of a clothesline) seems pretty weak.
Chris Jericho’s jacket gets destroyed: Hit
So the end was a bit of a bait and switch. I actually was legitimately interested in seeing Cass vs. Jericho, but I think in the end it was a good thing that it didn’t happen. The crowd was pretty dead by this point and the Ambrose/Jericho segment did a lot to build towards their rematch at the PPV. Cass still came out of this show looking good, and Ambrose got his heat back after being laid out last week.
All photos via WWE.com